5.1. THE ETERNAL ARMAGEDDON OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
Jehovah’s Witnesses are one of the last monstrous progeny of the American religious orgies. Founded in the second part of the 19th century by Charles Taze Russell, the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses rose from the Millerite ash on the theory that the expected event was just, but the date was erroneously calculated. A charismatic figure, Russell never claimed that he had divine revelations. Instead, he believed that God had endowed him with wisdom to correctly interpret the Bible. Between 1870 and 1875 the Russell family, together with the Adventist pastors George Storrs and George Stetson, intensively studied the Bible and the history of Christianity. Following this intellectual effort, the group came to the conclusion that they gained a better understanding of the Bible and that they found significant errors in the foundations of the contemporary Christian doctrine. The entire group rebaptized in 1874.
In parallel with Russell, the former Millerite Nelson Barbour began a new round of biblical and prophetic study. In 1873 he launched the Herald of the Morning magazine, in which he advanced a possible return of Christ in 1874. One year later Russell found a copy of Nelson’s work and contacted him to establish a meeting and to compare the notes. They both agreed that Parousia took place indeed in 1874, but in an invisible way, and it would become visible in 1878. In this period of four years the return of Christ could be known only by the true believers. This is how the association between Barbour and Russell began. The latter was so impressed by the conclusions they had reached, that he decided to sell his clothing stores and to invest the money in conferences, brochures, magazines and books for spreading the new doctrine.